At DTRT Apparel, we firmly believe that our workers are the backbone of our industry.
Here are a few of their stories.
BASHIRA is 22 years old and has been working at DTRT Apparel for the past nine months. She comes from the Upper Eastern region of Northern Ghana. Bashira says that life was not easy for her and her six siblings while growing up. When she was younger, her father worked as a truck driver and her mother traded local food products. However, in June 2014 after Bashira completed her high school education, her father lost his job and her mother’s business fell apart.
Bashira's father then told her and her siblings that they would now need to fully support themselves. Being the oldest, she decided to migrate South where there was rumored to be more opportunity. She followed her teacher who had been transferred to the city of Kumasi, where she then supported herself by selling peanut butter to local food joints called “chop bars” in the evenings, and working in a bakery during the day. After six long and laborious months, Bashira only earned 60 Cedis (about $15) during her entire time spent in Kumasi.
Then Bashira reconnected with an old friend who lived in Accra and was working at Dignity DTRT. After Bashira heard about the company, she was eager to apply. To her surprise, she was offered a position the same day she came to the factory. The next day she traveled back to Kumasi and packed her belongings. Bashira recalls that on the bus ride from Kumasi to Accra, she prayed to God for help and protection, since she was venturing into a new city where she knew very few people.
For the past 9 months, Bashira has worked with the Q.A. team in production, preparation and is currently working in the cutting department. When asked whether the company had positively affected her life, she was quite emotional.
“I have suffered a lot in life, but at least now I can support myself. One of my younger sisters has a scholarship in school so we don’t pay school fees but I am able to buy all her provisions. I supported my mother when she once fell ill, and after my father’s drivers license expired I was able to send him money to renew it."
GIHON is 19 years old and lives in Chorkor, a suburb of Accra. He has been working for Dignity DTRT for 18 months. Prior to joining us, he sold phone call credit cards on the streets to support himself. However, this business could not sustainably bring Gihon a steady income.
While searching for another job, a friend told him about Dignity Industries. The only problem was, Gihon had no sewing experience whatsoever. Nevertheless, he was assured that he could be part of the ironing team even if he could not sew.
Gihon ironed garments for Dignity Industries until the formation of Dignity DTRT (DTRT Apparel's joint venture partnership). When Suman Miah, an expat training manager from Bangladesh persuaded Gihon to sign up for a special training program designed for sewing operators, he was intrigued and accepted the offer. After six months of training Gihon was proud to be part of the sewing team that produced Dignity DTRT's first ever shipment for export to the United States.
Gihon is now able to perform every single sewing operation that is required to produce a T-shirt. He hopes for a bright future with the company and aspires to become a line supervisor. He has also already invited seven of his friends to work for the company as well.
Gihon says that his life has been positively affected by the company because aside from providing for himself, he has also acquired some personal items, like a mattress and his own television, that we was never able to afford before. Gihon also is able to occasionally support his family in times of need, and was recently able to pay for his father’s medical bills.
GRACE is 22 years old, and one of Dignity DTRT's sewing operators. Before joining Dignity DTRT, she earned a meager income working part-time at a factory producing alcoholic beverages. Growing up in a household of four with her single mother as the sole bread winner was especially challenging for Grace. Her mother often travels to Nigeria for work, and is forced to leave Grace's two younger sisters in her care. After hearing about Dignity DTRT from her friends, she decided to apply a job.
Grace was concerned about not having any sewing skills, but her friends assured her that the company would provide her with the necessary training needed. After only a couple months, Grace had overcome all her fears and doubts as to whether she would be able to sew. Now Grace can confidently perform four different sewing operations. She hopes to be promoted to line supervisor in the near future, and continue to develop her career in the industry. She has also recommended the company to three of her friends.
Grace is now able to provide for herself, her two younger siblings and also occasionally supports her mother, as well as maintaining a modest savings account.